Best graveyard (2008)

Rossville Boatyard

Though the word survivor is often used in a somewhat ironic, self-congratulatory manner by New Yorkers about themselves and each other, this claim is largely aspirational: In fact, New Yorkers have been dropping like those proverbially moribund flies for hundreds of years now—the victims of pestilence and plague; poisoned food and water; famine and fire; riot, war, and terrorist attack; gang warfare, domestic violence, and hate crimes; private passion and civic indifference. Though the five boroughs shelter hundreds of square miles of official cemetery space, it's impossible to know how many bodies lie unmarked and unmourned here, buried literally beneath our feet. For those whose interests are less landlocked, the several monuments to victims of the Titanic and General Slocum disasters are excellent sites for honoring the dead New Yorkers of long ago. But the enigmatic Rossville Boatyard—the final resting place of hundreds of old cargo ships, tugboats, barges, and other decaying vessels—is private property, inaccessible to all but the most daring. Best seen in Sean O'Boyle's haunting photo essay (, this eloquent memorial to New York's great, sweaty past is infinitely more moving than some brass plaque, light show or teched-up interactive exhibit could ever be.


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